Rabbis’ wives urge Israeli women: Stay away from Arab men & School principal prohibits students from speaking Arabic

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And more news from Today in Palestine:

Settlers/ Land, Property, Resource Theft & Destruction/Ethnic Cleansing
Palestinian Developer Intends To Buy Settlement Construction Firm
A construction firm headed by Palestinian businessman, Bashar Al Masry, intends to buy an Israeli Construction Firm that builds Jewish settlements in occupied East Jerusalem. The news angered residents of Nuf Zion settlement neighborhood in Jabal Al Mukabber, in East Jerusalem, as the firm supervises the construction there.

Israel Set To Build And Market 5000 Units In East Jerusalem and the West Bank
By Saed Bannoura – PNN- The Israeli Housing Ministry is planning to build and market nearly 5000 new units for Jewish settlers in occupied East Jerusalem and the  West Bank.  Lawyer Qais Yousef Nasser, a specialist in Construction and Planning Laws, stated that the Israeli Housing Ministry sold in 2010 more than 1400 units in settlements in occupied East Jerusalem and the West Bank, and that these units were mainly sold in Homat Shmoel settlement, Maaleh Adumim settlement block, and Pisgat Zeev.

Israeli Settlers Set Fire to Agricultural Lands and Attack Farmers Near Nablus
On Monday, dozens of Israeli settlers torched agricultural lands and attacked Palestinian farmers near Madame village, south of Nablus.

Jewish settlers seize 60 dunums of Palestinian land in Nablus
Jewish settlers seized 60 dunums of Palestinian land near the village of Jalud south of Nablus, ploughed the land, and surrounded it with a fence, local sources said.

Christian extremists assist Israel in displacing Negev Bedouin, Jonathan Cook
Half a million trees planted over the past 18 months on the ancestral lands of Bedouin tribes in Israel’s Negev region were bought by a controversial Christian evangelical television channel that calls itself God-TV. Jonathan Cook reports.

Activism/Solidarity/Boycott, Divestment & Sanctions
Violent attacks on protestors in Beitin
Dec 28, 2010– The village of Beitin is located less than five minutes from Ramallah. Overlooking the city from the northeast, Beitin is sandwiched between the two settlements Bet El, which also contains a military base, and Ofra. The main road between Beitin and Ramallah has been closed by an Occupation checkpoint, forcing residents from Beitin and surrounding villages to travel nearly a half-hour on an agricultural road to reach the city. Yesterday, residents held a protest against this closure. Hundreds marched toward the checkpoint, and were almost immediately attacked by Occupation forces.

Nine arrested at checkpoint protest
Dec 28, 2010– Occupation forces repressed a demonstration condemning the Apartheid Wall and settlements at the Qalandiya checkpoint, which closes off Jerusalem to the north, on Saturday. Demonstrators called for the opening of the checkpoint and demanded that Palestinians be allowed to enter and reach their isolated city.

Israel court sentences Fatah official
JERUSALEM (Ma’an) — Israel’s high court on Tuesday issued Fatah’s Jerusalem Affairs official Hatem Abdel Qader a three month suspended sentence, his lawyer said.  Abdel Qader was charged with violating military orders banning him from accessing the Al-Aqsa Mosque as well as disobeying Israeli forces during protests which erupted in the East Jerusalem neighborhood of Silwan.

Let Pollak’s refusal of leniency be read in every Hebrew school down thru time, Jonathan Pollak
I must add that, if His Honor decides to go ahead and impose my suspended prison sentence, I will go to prison wholeheartedly and with my head held high. It will be the justice system itself, I believe, that will need to lower its eyes in the face of the suffering inflicted on Gaza’s inhabitants, just like it lowers its eyes and averts its vision each and every day when faced with the realities of the occupation.

In Israel, Non-Violent Solidarity Activist Goes to Prison, Anti-Gay Terrorist Gets Community Service, Max Blumenthal
On December 27, Anarchists Against the Wall co-founder Jonathan Pollak was slapped with a three month prison sentence for illegal assembly. He was convicted by an Israeli magistrate judge for his participation in a January 2008 Critical Mass bike ride through the streets of Tel Aviv in protest of Israel’s brutal military assault on the Gaza Strip. Though Pollak was offered community service, he accepted prison time because he was convinced that he had done nothing wrong.  The day before Pollak was sentenced, an Israeli judge handed down a sentence of six months of community service to Michael Naky. Naky’s crime? He helped devise and detonate a pipe bomb in order to kill as many homosexuals as possible at the 2007 Jerusalem gay pride parade.  In a single day in Israel’s kangaroo courts, a right-wing terrorist was sentenced to a few months of street cleaning while a non-violent activist dedicated to stopping the occupation was jailed under the most specious charges. And while Pollak’s sentencing was reported with great fanfare in Israel’s major papers, Naky’s passed below the radar (Yedioth devoted just six lines). The contrast in punishments represented just another symptom of a sick society unwilling to face the Molock in the mirror.

How much public influence does a pro-Palestinian Israeli have?, Amira Hass
Left-wing activist Jonathan Pollak is sentenced to three months in jail for taking part in an illegal demonstration against the blockade of Gaza.

Demonstration to re-open Shuhada Street returns to Hebron
Saturday, in the city of Hebron, Israeli occupation forces suppressed an anti-settlement movement in the city to reopen Shuhada Street. Two internationals and two Israeli activists were arrested; four activists were beaten.  Seventy activists participated in the demonstration, which took place at the eastern entrance to Al-Shuhada Street, which was closed by the Israeli military in 1994.  Participants raised Palestinian flags and banners, demanding that Shuhada Street be opened, and an end to all forms of racial discrimination practiced by the occupation. They chanted—in Arabic, English and Hebrew–to condemn the closure of the street and the practices of the military and the settlers against the citizens of Hebron.

Turkey’s leftists demonstrate in Istanbul in solidarity with the Palestinians
Hundreds of leftists in Turkey hit the streets on Monday evening at the Taqsim Square in Istanbul to commemorate the second anniversary of the Israeli war on Gaza Strip.

Italians hit the streets in solidarity with Gaza
Hundreds of Italians hit the streets of Rome in a massive demonstration in solidarity with the Palestinian people in Gaza Strip on the second anniversary of the Israeli war on the coastal enclave.

Canadians protest Israel’s Gaza siege
Pro-Palestinian groups in Canada have staged a demonstration to mark the second anniversary of the Gaza war and protest Tel Aviv’s crippling siege of the coastal strip.

Children demonstrate in Gaza

Bil’in to Celebrate the Last Day of the Wall,  Joseph Dana
The Israeli High Court Ruled that the path of the Wall in Bil’in is illegal and must be rerouted more than three years ago. This Friday, on the last day of the decade, Thousands will celebrate the last day of the Wall in its current path.

Demonstrations in Ni’lin: Routine or Resistance?
Walking through the olive groves separating the village of Ni’lin from the West Bank barrier, a group of Palestinians heading the opposite direction shake their heads at us in warning.  “Trouble” is all they say. Trouble is a weekly occurrence here, signified by tear gas, rubber bullets, and arrests. Trouble is punctuated by tragedy, as the Friday demonstrations often end in tear gas, rubber-coated metal bullets, arrests, and sometimes death.

“Israel engaged in serious repression of non-violent activism”,  Joseph Dana
I appeared on Russia Today this afternoon to discuss the jailing of Jonathan Pollak and what it means for Israeli democracy and Israel’s repression of Palestinian non-violence.

Israeli firms back Palestinian city
Settlers criticise companies for agreeing to developer’s demand to avoid settlement products.

Response to J Street statement about Seattle Ad Campaign
The following letter was written on behalf of AUPHR — one of our member organizations — by a member of our steering committee…

End International Complicity, Intensify BDS
On the morning of 27 December 2008 Israeli forces initiated a 23-day military offensive against the occupied and besieged Gaza Strip killing more than 1400 and injuring over 5000 Palestinians, predominantly civilians and refugees since 1948. Two years have passed and those responsible for the atrocities committed have not yet been held accountable. The Palestinian Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions National Committee (BNC) calls on conscientious people and organizations around the world to step up efforts to end Israel’s long record of impunity through boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) until international law and Palestinian rights are upheld.

Wafa’s parents thanked us, but I only felt deep shame (How I became an activist), Pat Carmeli
A central function of this website is to pass along the stories of Americans who awakened to the issue and slowly took steps to become engaged. Pat Carmeli lives in Cazenovia, New York and is a member ofCentral New York Working for a Just Peace in Palestine and Israel.

Human Rights/Racism & Discrimination
Israeli demolitions traumatic for Palestinian children, says UN official
A senior United Nations official today condemned the demolition of two refugee homes in East Jerusalem, stressing in particular the trauma caused to Palestinian children forced to witness their homes being destroyed.  “These condemnable acts have a devastating impact,” Barbara Shenstone, the West Bank Field Director for the UN Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA), said in a news release.  “I call on the Israeli authorities to cease demolitions and evictions in occupied areas which are in contravention of Israel’s obligations under international law, including the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child, to which Israel is a party.”

Al Haq, Al Dameer, and Al Mezan Condemn the Continued, Illegal Detentions Contrary to High Court Decisions; Call for Immediate Release of Detainees and End of Political Arrests
Detentions have continued in the West Bank on seemingly political and opinion grounds. Despite the condemnations of this practice and a ruling by the Palestinian Court of Justice, these violations of Palestinian law have continued. Information available to the human rights organizations indicate that the number of detainees by the Palestinian Authority’s (PA) security forces in the West Bank is about 500. Their detention conditions and treatment are in clear violation of the Palestinian law.

The question is not whether there is a humanitarian crisis in Gaza, but whether there is collective punishment, Gisha
Recently, it was announced that Israel will allow limited marketing of Gaza’s goods outside of the Strip – an encouraging step. It has also been suggested (article in Hebrew), that the closure has had a limited impact on the level of poverty in the Gaza Strip. Yet a closer look at the reality behind the numbers reveals a picture of limited economic activity, mostly fueled by external aid.

Lately there ain’t been much work on account of the economy
Recently, it was announced that Israel will allow limited marketing of Gaza’s goods outside of the Strip – an encouraging step. It has also been suggested, that the closure has had a limited impact on the level of poverty in the Gaza Strip (article in Hebrew). Yet a closer look at the reality behind the numbers reveals a picture of limited economic activity, mostly fueled by external aid.

Palestinians ‘routinely denied lawyer’ (AFP)
AFP – Palestinians being interrogated by Israel’s internal security agency Shin Bet are routinely denied access to a lawyer and are often ill treated, an Israeli rights group said on Tuesday.

School principal prohibits students from speaking Arabic
Dozens of Jaffa residents protest outside integrated school attended both by Arab, Jewish students. ‘I dare you to prohibit Lieberman from speaking Russian at the Knesset,’ city councilman says.

Ban on Arabic in Jaffa classroom sparks protests
Students question why teachers stop them from speaking Arabic, but don’t do so when immigrant students speak Russian between themselves.

Rabbis’ wives urge Israeli women: Stay away from Arab men
A new letter signed by 30 women suggests that girls who date non-Jews will be cut off from their ‘holy race’.

Report: 44% of Israeli Jews support rabbis’ edict forbidding rentals to Arabs
According to the results of a new survey, 48% of Israeli Jews oppose the call to forbid renting or selling property to non-Jews.

Jim Crow in Bat Yam
Jessica Montell – Y-net – In the Bat Yam racist rallys some speakers railed against sexual harassment of Jewish women, others lectured against inter-ethnic dating. From a women`s rights perspective, of course there is no connection between the two. But for the demonstrators, they are in fact the same thing. They consider a woman`s free will as irrelevant.

Make no mistake – Israelis have always been racist
But the distress does not contradict the racism, it goes hand in hand with it. In its early days, when Israel’s character was taking shape, it determined that the white race was superior. When the people who would eventually become “Mizrahim” arrived and were brought here from North Africa, it wasn’t suggested or made possible for them to take part in the government, the land, the systems of power and the media. Very quickly they became citizens, but second-class citizens subject to humiliation and inferior conditions. They were excluded from public life and official cultural life, living with the knowledge and experience of inferiority. And separation: They were put in separate housing projects and separate neighborhoods.  People who grow up with this experience of inferiority, when racism is directed at them, internalize that racism. When a landlord, the master, determines that white is good and black is inferior, you internalize that standard and hate yourself because you are not white. The standard of white superiority and the racism that comes with it become part of you, even when you are its victim.

Palestinian Killed, Five Injured, As Army Bombards Khan Younis
Palestinian medical sources reported on Tuesday evening that one resident was killed, and five others were injured, when the Israeli Army bombarded an area in Khuza’a town, east of Khan Younis, in the southern part of the Gaza Strip.

Palestinian worker hit with IOF bullets
A Palestinian worker was injured while collecting gravel east of Gaza city at the hands of the Israeli occupation forces (IOF) who routinely target those workers near the Strip border areas.

IOF kidnap once again MP Tal from his home in Al-Khalil
The Israeli occupation forces (IOF) kidnapped at dawn Tuesday Hamas lawmaker Mohamed Al-Tal after a violent raid on his home in the occupied city of Al-Khalil.

Israeli army arrest 10 Palestinians in Gaza, West Bank
Israeli forces on Tuesday arrested 10 Palestinians in the Gaza Strip and the West Bank, including a Hamas lawmaker, witnesses and security sources said.Six of the detainees were fishermen, Palestinian and Israeli security sources said. The Israeli naval forces arrested them off northern Gaza Strip’s coast after they approached the maritime marks that Gaza fishing boats should not exceed.

Gaza government frees 45 detainees
GAZA CITY (Ma’an) — A day after Gaza residents marked the anniversary of the Israel’s 2008-9 offensive on the coastal region, Gaza’s interior ministry announced the release of 45 prisoners in honor of the day.  Gaza police spokesman Major Ra’ed Al-Batneejy said in a news conference that those released had served three and five year sentences, and would be returned to their families.

Israel’s Arab Helpers
Hamas: PA detains 5 affiliates
BETHLEHEM (Ma’an) — Hamas officials in the West Bank issued a statement on Tuesday, saying Palestinian Authority police and intelligence officers detained five supporters from four different governorates.  The five were detained from Nablus, Tulkarem, Hebron and Jenin. Ma’an was not able to independently verify the reports.

Dweik: Efforts to release detainees from PA jails yielded nothing
Dr. Aziz Dweik said there are still efforts made by some independent figures to form a committee for the release of political detainees from PA jails, but nothing has been realized in this regard.

Ikhras Video: Ziad Asali, ATFP host war criminal Tony Blair
While antiwar activists all over the world protest Tony Blair and demand that he face prosecution for war crimes, Ziad Asali and the American Task Force on Palestine beg to differ.

Political Developments
U.S. declined to cooperate in Dubai probe of Mabhouh killing, WikiLeaks shows
U.A.E. alleges Mossad orchestrated the assassination of a top Hamas commander in January 2010, asked U.S. to provide credit card details linked to suspects; U.S. last year denied ever receiving such request.

UAE ‘held back full story of hotel assassination’
Authorities in the United Arab Emirates hesitated for nine days before deciding to reveal details of the assassination of Hamas militant Mahmoud al-Mabouh in a Dubai hotel in January, cables published by WikiLeaks reveal.

‘Kouchner talked about recognizing Palestinian state’
WikiLeaks: Former French FM told Mitchell of idea in Jan 2010; Israeli official says confident this is not now Paris’ policy.

Fatah suspends controversial strongman Dahlan (AFP)
AFP – Mohamed Dahlan, the former Gaza strongman rumoured to be out of favour with Palestinian president Mahmud Abbas, was suspended from Fatah’s leadership, the party said on Tuesday.

Palestinian Factions In Gaza Hold A Meeting To Discuss Israeli Threats
Palestinian factions in Gaza, except for Fateh, held a meeting on Sunday calling on Arab and international institutions to pressure Israel into halting its violations and escalations against the Palestinian people, especially in the Gaza Strip.

Palestinian leader to lay first stone of Brazil embassy (AFP)
AFP – Palestinian president Mahmud Abbas is to lay the symbolic first stone of an embassy in Brazil this week, following Brasilia’s decision to recognize a Palestinian state, the Palestinian representative here told AFP.

US on Lieberman remarks: Our policy unchanged
In response to FM’s claim that peace unattainable ‘even if Israel were to offer Tel Aviv as capital of Palestine,’ State Department says will continue to work toward jumpstarting direct talks.

Israeli coalition’s row over foreign policy more a result of internal politics
JERUSALEM, Dec. 28 (Xinhua) — In the aftermath of the harsh comments by Israeli Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman on the government’s foreign policies, the prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu is seemingly trying to lower the tension in his coalition.  Lieberman, the leader of the second largest party in the current cabinet, recently accused Turkey of being liars and branded efforts by Netanyahu to achieve a peace agreement with the Palestinians as “unrealistic.”  “He doesn’t humiliate me. He expressed his opinion,” the premier said in a televised interview Monday night, refraining from criticizing Lieberman.

Other News
Interview with Palestinian MP Khalid Tafish
Khalid Tafish is Palestinian Legislative Council (PLC) Deputy for Bethlehem. In 1986, he graduated with a BA in Islamic studies. Before becoming PLC member, he was imam for Omar ibn Al-Khattab mosque in Bethlehem for 18 years. He is now 45 years old, is married and has seven children. He was arrested by the Israeli forces seven times over the years 1988 to 2010. He was elected  as a member of the PLC in the 2006 elections while in prison. This interview was made by Alessandra Bajec.

Palestinian women race car drivers leave gender barriers in the dust
A handful of Palestinian women have taken up race car driving in the West Bank, and although there’s been resistance, these women are too good to shut out

Gaza Two Years Later: The Earth woke peacefully, Mohammed Rabah Suliman
For the first time in twenty-two days the Earth woke up without a start. Even though the sky was spotted with a few randomly dispersed clouds, it was was bereft of the disturbing tones of the overhead drones which had now disappeared. The earth had woken peacefully, peacefully enough not to bear with the frighteningly gigantic burden of a new bomb to be dropped onto her surface bestowing on her some savagely massive shake. Peacefully enough not to endure the deafeningly immense sound of another bomb tearing down through its stratums. The earth had woken peacefully enough not to feign warm-heartedness as she embraces a new lifeless body laid into her deepness, and peacefully enough not to feel the insufferable pain of watching herself fight a losing battle against a huge bulldozer mercilessly extirpating a new sapling that had just issued from her sand. The earth had woken peacefully, and peace obviously had known its way through the countless bullets, rockets, mortars and bombs which had been horrifyingly raining on this part of the earth, and, it seemed, it had finally been able to guide itself through the jet-black darkness of the multiple graves. Peace, as far as one could tell, had flown out from the bottomless earth up to the very heights of the sky where the soaring birds could finally replace the awful scene of mighty jets and warplanes.

Gaza Diary, Day five: sumoud, Max Ajl
PopoutI woke up today, walked out my door. To the right was the insanely vivid blue of the Mediterranean. Omar al-Mokhtar was quiet. I jumped in a cab, went to a demonstration, and on the way heard about the latest sordid, crappy little thing the Israeli army had done to the people living here: six fishermen were kidnapped off the coast of Gaza City late last night, maybe as I was looking at the stars cutting through the black weft of the night sky, so bizarrely visible in Gaza when in a normal city there’d be far too much light pollution to see the stars so starkly and clearly. One blinked oddly and too brightly, too close to be a star: a drone, hovering over the water slightly to the south. North, from the roof, I could see the flames licking out from the rig drilling the oil discovered offshore, and farther north, Ashkelon, obscenely and tauntingly glimmering, as if to say to the people living here, This is the life we have, and you don’t have and won’t have, and it’s something so simple that it’s nearly surreal: just having electricity on 24 hours a day, something so taken for granted that a blackout in a Western metropolis is a couple-times-a-century-event. Here’s it’s quotidian.

The tragedy of a two-state solution, Ahmad Tibi
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is toying with the Obama administration, professing an interest in peace while doing his utmost to stymie a just resolution of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. This is no way for Israel to treat its leading ally. Nearly two years into office, Mr. Netanyahu is running circles around President Obama and encircling Jerusalem with still more illegal settlements.

Washington Times twice does what NY Times can’t– runs Ahmad Tibi on Israeli ‘democracy’, Philip Weiss
The Washington Times ran an amazing op-ed yesterday on the need for Israel to become a democratic state of its citizens, “The Tragedy of a two-state solution,” by Palestinian member of the Knesset Ahmad Tibi. I am excerpting a lot of it below. Basically it’s a call to America, let Israel become a true democracy, and stop parking your mind in a two-state-solution that’s not going anywhere. And Tibi uses the term “Israeli apartheid,” which you won’t see in many mainstream venues.

‘NYT’ laments Arab countries destroying ‘cramped, historic city centers’ in 60s and leaves out–
Yesterday the New York Times ran a piece about historic preservation in the ancient Syrian city of Aleppo and lamented about how many Middle Eastern nations have demolished historic districts in an effort to expand public space. The article is filled with references to how Islamic fundamentalists detest preservation and would gladly demolish Western and Ottoman architecture and how Arab governments have been negligent.

Israeli Journalist Gideon Levy Comes to Palestine with Message of No Hope
Bethlehem – PNN – “I don’t see any kind of hope from any direction.” That was the conclusion of veteran Israeli journalist Gideon Levy when he visited the Alternative Information Center in Beit Sahour, near Bethlehem, on Tuesday night.

China imports Israel’s methods of propaganda and repression
A recent meeting between Chinese and Israeli military officials is only the latest in a burgeoning security relationship between Israel and China that includes drone technology, crowd control training, surveillance, intelligence gathering and more. This raises the question of how China’s official support for Palestinian self-determination will coincide with its ongoing procurement of the tools of Palestinian pacification. Jimmy Johnson comments.

‘TNR’ will stop publishing Peretz’s blog ‘The Spine’ (the lobby is melting down), Philip Weiss
Everyone is talking about Benjamin Wallace-Wells’s profile of Marty Peretz in New York Magazine, and well they should, it’s an excellent piece, very sad. Peretz comes off as a racist crank who has been “stripped of his magazine” and is reduced to telling Holocaust stories in sybaritic Tel Aviv. Most poignantly, he has no idea how racist he was. He has evidently been cossetted by admirers at Harvard and the Yivo Institute and the New Republic for so long that no one dared to give Marty the news. Peretz trashes diversity and takes a savage cut at the eminent writer John Judis, saying he “knows zero” about Israel. (But ignorance can often trump knowledge, if the values are superior.) The piece does notably sidestep certain areas in Peretz’s life, including his lack of academic production, which Eric Alterman has written about.

Israel Represses Israelis, and Congress Approves, Stephen Zunes
It’s been two years since Israel initiated the Operation Cast Lead military assault on the besieged Gaza Strip. Since then, the right-wing Israeli government of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has launched an unprecedented wave of intimidation against Israeli peace and human rights groups. These groups say they are “working in an increasingly hostile environment,” according to a New York Times report, and that Israeli government leaders are fostering “an atmosphere of harassment” by turning “human rights criticism into an existential threat.”

JWN revived; Israel’s wars described, Helena Cobban
My apologies to loyal JWN readers that I haven’t posted much recently… Indeed, for most of the past three or four months I have been seriously AWOL as a blogger. It happens. I got really busy with Just World Books– and also, over both Thanksgiving and Christmas, with family things. (I’m writing this from San Francisco airport at the end of a fabulous family get-together in the Bay Area and Northern California. Fun to share Christmas festivities with so many Jewish in-laws… )

Invoking the Espionage Act Against Assange
There have been some suggestions in the press that Wikileaks founder could and should be prosecuted under the Espionage Act. While this law has been on the books for almost 100 years and no court has ever declared any part of it unconstitutional, either facially or as applied, it is a troubling law that falls into the same category as the material support of terrorism laws, conspiracy law, and RICO — all prosecutorial favorites because they are far easier to obtain convictions with than other kinds of laws.

The Convergence of Islamophobia and U.S. Policy (Updated below), Alex Kane
Prominent anti-Muslim activists such as Pamela Geller and Robert Spencer like to run around castigating the Obama administration for submitting to sharia law or coddling Islamic terrorists.  But in reality, the right-wing movement to shut down Muslim-American political activity in the U.S. shares an agenda with the U.S. government.

Book review: correcting mistaken notions on Arabs in America
Many Americans think anti-Arab sentiment in the United States began after 11 September 2001. Others think Arabs are recent immigrants to America. Some think the Arab community has kept to itself, not participating in struggles like the civil rights and labor movements. Alia Malek’s A Country Called Amreeka is a welcome corrective to these mistaken notions.

Israel again violates Lebanese air space, enters Shebaa Farms
BEIRUT: Israel violated Monday Lebanese air space and penetrated the Shebaa Farms, said a statement released Tuesday by the Lebanese Army.  Two Israeli troops crossed the technical fence at the Ras al-Sammaqa site in the Shebaa Farms and moved 20 meters into disputed territories, where they stayed for 15 minutes, while four Israeli soldiers breached the same area Sunday morning, the army statement said.

Magistrate wants Israeli collaborator executed
BEIRUT: Military Investigative Magistrate Fadi Sawwan demanded Tuesday the death penalty for a Lebanese detainee on charges of collaborating with Israel. Sawwan handed down his indictment against Caesar. J. and demanded the capital punishment in line with articles 274, 275 and 278 of the penal code.

Three fishermen go missing along Syrian border
BEIRUT: Three Lebanese fishermen went missing Tuesday along the coast of the northern village of Arida, a few hours after they set sail, according to the state-run National News Agency (NNA).  Efforts by two boats from the civil defense naval rescue unit and a Lebanese Army helicopter to search for Haitham Salloum, his son Mohammad and Masoud Iskandar had been unsuccessful as The Daily Star went to press  The Salloums are from Arida, while Iskandar hails from the village of Hekr al-Daheri in the district of Akkar.  Rescue efforts stopped for the night but would resume Wednesday morning, according to the NNA.

Sahmarani killing shrouded in mystery – Fatah official
BEIRUT: The head of Fatah movement’s Palestinian Armed Struggle (PAS) said Tuesday that the killing of an Islamist commander in Ain al-Hilweh was shrouded in mystery, and repeated a denial that the assassination had any repercussions on the security of the Palestinian refugee camp.

A rarity in the region, Lebanese paper dares to provoke – Leftist…
BEIRUT, Lebanon – Ibrahim al-Amine, the hawk-eyed editorial chairman of Al Akhbar, describes his newspaper’s founding ambitions this way: “We wanted the U.S. ambassador to wake up in the morning, read it and get upset.” He succeeded.

Suicide bombers hit police compound in Iraq’s Mosul (Reuters)
Reuters – Two suicide bombers attacked a police battalion in the northern Iraqi city of Mosul on Wednesday and killed the commander, police sources said.

Tuesday: 18 Iraqis Killed, 11 Wounded
Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki assured the United States that American troops are no longer needed and there will be no extension of an agreement permitting them in Iraq. Meanwhile, at least 18 Iraqis were killed and 11 more were wounded in the latest violence. Also, five Iraqi Ba’ath Party factions have formed a new party in Damascus.

Iraqi Prime Minister Says U.S. Not Welcome After 2011, PM Maliki Rules Out Renegotiating Deal For U.S. Troops To Pullout By End Of 2011
Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki has closed the door on any possibility that American troops might be asked to stay in Iraq beyond the mutually agreed end of 2011 pullout date.  Maliki says his country’s security forces are more than up to the task of taking on whatever security threats remain in Iraq.  In an interview with the Wall Street Journal, Maliki said the security deal with the U.S. will not be renegotiated.

Iraq to remove some checkpoints from Baghdad
BAGHDAD — Iraq’s leaders are investigating the possibility of removing some of Baghdad’s hundreds of much hated checkpoints because of the improving security situation, said the city’s military spokesman Tuesday.  Maj. Gen. Qassim al-Moussawi said that Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki has asked commanders to evaluate the security situation in Baghdad and decide which of the roughly 870 checkpoints that dot the city can be removed.

MIDDLE EAST: Iraqi refugees – interpreting the statistics
DAMASCUS Tuesday, December 28, 2010 (IRIN) – Hundreds of thousands of Iraqis fled the country after sectarian violence broke out following the 2003 war which toppled Saddam Hussein. However, the precise number of refugees is hard to ascertain and fluctuates in line with changing perceptions and the security situation in Iraq.
Iraq’s Baathist factions form new party in Syria
DAMASCUS, Dec. 28 (Xinhua) — Five Iraqi Baathist factions declared on Tuesday that they have formed a new party with the base in Damascus.  The five factions, the Resurrection Party, Revision and Unification, National Liberation Movement and Monadiloon Gathering, formed a new group called the Resurrection and Renewal Party.  “This declaration is not a new split case as some believe, it is rather an expression refusing the national dispute and fragmentation,” said Khalid al-Samurrae, secretary general of the new party.

U.S. and other world news
US Kills Another 16 People In Pakistan
At least 16 people were killed in four consecutive U.S. drone strikes Tuesday afternoon in Pakistan’s northwest tribal area of North Waziristan, reported local media.

US strikes kill 46 People In Pakistan
US drone attacks on tribal areas in northwest Pakistan have killed and wounded scores of people in the past two days.

Obama’s CIA War in Pakistan
Obama’s favorite war is in Pakistan, near the Afghanistan border. He has had the CIA ramp up the number of missiles making attacks.

ICRC facilitates video calls for Guantanamo detainees, their families in Yemen
SANAA, Dec. 28 (Xinhua) — The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) announced on Tuesday that it has facilitated video-teleconference calls between detainees at the U.S.-run military jail in Guantanamo Bay and their families in Yemen.  “The first calls were made ten days ago at the headquarters of the ICRC’s delegation in Sanaa, the capital of Yemen. The latest round of calls was made from Yemen’s southern city port of Aden,” the ICRC said in a press release.

Revealed: The classified maps that show Afghanistan is becoming more dangerous… with number of high risk areas spreading

CNN’s Jessica Yellin, Glenn Greenwald Spar Over WikiLeaks (VIDEO)
CNN’s Jessica Yellin and blogger Glenn Greenwald got into a sparring match about whether WikiLeaks can be placed in the same category as media outlets such as the New York Times and CNN.  Yellin was hosting “John King USA” on Monday, and brought on Greenwald and former Bush administration official Fran Townsend to discuss WikiLeaks. She asked Greenwald if WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange should have expected the aggressive response he has received from the American government, given the nature of the secrets he was exposing. She also asked if Assange “should be prepared to go to jail for what’s he’s done, as other revolutionaries have.”  “Well, see, you’re a journalist, so you should understand better than anybody that publishing classified information about what governments do is not actually a crime,” Greenwald responded. “Every day, media outlets like the New York Times and the Washington Post and CNN publish government secrets.”

Tunisia jobless protests rage
Escalating unrest over unemployment in Tunisia, with a rare display of public protest in the capital. Anti-government protests in Tunisia have spread to the capital. The demonstrations began 10 days ago in a central rural region – where people are upset about poor living conditions. And now, some of the country’s trade unions have called for a “solidarity protest”. Al Jazeera’s Bhanu Bhatnagar reports.


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